By Mike Rowbottom in Tokyo

Dedicated Olympic lanes at the Athens 2004 Olympics improved public and media perception of how the Games were being run, says IOC expert Professor Philippe Bovy ©Getty ImagesSorting out transport issues can significantly improve the media perception of how an Olympic Games is being run, Professor Philippe Bovy, of the International Olympic Committee's Evaluation Committee, claimed here today.

"At the 2004 Games in Athens, the Olympic lane was a new innovative transport element," said Bovy at the Sport Event Management and Organisation Seminar hosted here by the Tsukuba International Academy for Sport Studies (TIAS) with the assistance of the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS) Mastering Sport group.

"Athens had a positive transport experience in the days before the Opening Ceremony which shift the perception of the media.

"After Atlanta 1996, the IOC decided to insist more on having good transport systems in place and Sydney came up with significant new plans.

"In Sydney, 100 per cent of spectators, workforce and volunteers travelled on reinforced public transport.

"There was zero parking within one kilometre of all Olympic venues.

"There was 24 hour free public transport for ticketed spectators and all Olympic officials, staff workforce and volunteers.

"The Sydney Games were the most pre-tested Games with outstanding atmosphere without cars and a rediscovered rail creating new travel behaviour.

"In Beijing, they used the lucky number eight.

"People going to the Opening Ceremony took the metro line eight and the Games started on the 8.8.2008 at 8.08pm.

"Beijing cut traffic by 40 per cent for 60 days as well as reduced construction and manufacturing which significantly reduced air pollution.

"London was the most significant renovation of their existing transport system.

"They had a no parking strategy for spectators and maximised the use of enhanced public transport system."

Eleven new metro lines were constructed by the Chinese in Beijing ahead of the 2008 Olympics and Paralympics ©China Images/Getty ImagesEleven new metro lines were constructed by the Chinese in Beijing ahead of the 2008 Olympics and Paralympics ©China Images/Getty Images

Aurelia Ruetsch, from the first-ever European Games in Baku next year, spoke about her role in protocol for the new event.

"Protocol is the glue which keeps things together," said Ruetsch.

"When it goes wrong, it can go very wrong. Get it right and it will elevate your event.

"Customer service is business; hospitality is from the heart."

Clare Hartley of ARC Event Consultancy, who was responsible for venue management at the road events at London 2012, stressed that cultural differences in applying venue protocol can be challenging but each Organising Committee should adapt venue protocol to their cultural specifications and to what works for the culture of the staff and the city.

She offered the example of changes which had to be made to the London 2012 road cycling time trial route 18 months ahead of the Games when it was established that the pre-planned route would mean shutting down 40km of road in a key financial area on London, which would have meant losing billions.

A new location was found passing Hampton Court Palace, which was good for images and television, although it involved greater cost and precluded the possibility of testing the route.

Hartley also highlighted a growing problem for Organising Committees - that of theft, given the quantity of items which it is difficult to guard, and the memorabilia aspect to many of them.

Ariane Curdy, an independent consultant, underlined the importance of trying to adjust to new cultural attitudes ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

"Modesty and humility has a strong presence in Japanese culture and writing," she said.

"We must have the right attitude and understand the other culture but before we can do this we must understand our own culture.

"It is important to be aware and understand cultural differences.

"You cannot rely on 'recipes' to stereotype and treat people, but must understand that you have a unique person in front of you.

"Culture is a set of shared values, beliefs and behaviours.

"Intercultural competence starts by having an understanding."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]